Ottawa has overturned a decision to grant refugee status to Gift Daniel, 32, in part because of a misspelling of her name in a government birth document from Lagos, Nigeria. Gift Daniel, 32, now faces deportation from Canada at any time.
What was unusual with the government’s appeal, is immigration officials did not challenge Daniel’s claim that she was a victim of female genital mutilation and domestic abuse, but contested her credibility on the grounds that she is not who she claims to be.
Daniel, a hairstylist from Benin, arrived in Canada in February 2015, using a false Canadian passport under the name of Desiree Dobson and filed an asylum claim upon.
She claimed she was forced to undergo female circumcision in 2012 and was sold by her father a year later to an older man who sexually, physically and psychologically abused her before she fled Nigeria with the help of a smuggler.
The refugee board confirmed there was documented evidence of genital mutilation. Upon her arrival in Canada, Daniel declared her real identity to officials as “Gift Daniel” and provided a birth document and driver’s licence as proof.
However, a border enforcement official quickly noticed her birth document spelled her name as “Gife” while her licence spelled it “Gift." She was detained for 3 months until her release on May 13, 2015, when she was granted refugee status.
The refugee appeal tribunal, however, overturned the asylum decision. Immigration officials argued the driver’s licences — two expired and one current — that Daniel submitted, bear different signatures and that one expired licence has a picture that does not look like her.
The identity issue was further compounded by a new birth document Daniel later submitted with the correct spelling of her first name.
The adjudicator, Leonard Favreau, said: “In traveling to Canada in possession of a false passport and other false identity documents, Daniel has demonstrated that she has the ability to obtain and the willingness to use fraudulent documents.”